We’ve been building and investing in two-sided, web-enabled marketplaces our entire careers. We love the business model: create a trusted place to transact, ensure quality and reputation, build liquidity on both sides so buyers and sellers can meet, discover price, and transact. It’s a beautiful thing … but traditionally very capital-intensive to start.
The old playbook involves raising a ton of VC money and using it to subsidize one or both sides of the marketplace to achieve that liquidity. If you’re lucky enough to break out (most don’t), you emerge as a very valuable, but investor-owned entity. The problem: those investors (deservedly) need a return.
Where does that return come from? Taxing the user with fees. Ever-increasing fees fuel a death spiral of misaligned incentives between the marketplace owner/operator and the users that make their living on the marketplace. Users start to disintermediate. Larger transactions are repelled, thus effectively capping growth as those hard-earned network effects erode.
After building and investing in so many of these marketplaces, and then seeing the incentives diverge as they scale, we thought, “there must be a better way.”
That better way is what we call the “Ownership economy.” It is a revolutionary form of network ownership and control powered by new technology: blockchain tokens. What makes user-owned networks different?
No fees. If a network is owned by its users, why would they want to charge themselves high fees? By charging zero fees to the talent and nominal fees to clients, you keep incentives aligned, enabling a whole new class of larger, ongoing transactions that make the network far more useful and valuable than a traditional high-fee marketplace.
That’s what Braintrust is creating with the first decentralized, liquid market for global talent. It has grown rapidly to become a coveted marketplace for knowledge workers, with a bustling community of over 50,000 talent from more than 100 countries.
And that network is now experiencing exponential growth, thanks to Braintrust’s core innovation — the BTRST token, an instrument that naturally encourages top talent to refer other qualified candidates to the network, solving the problem of incentivizing targeted referrals that has vexed companies for years.
As a result, Fortune 1000 companies and SMEs alike have made Braintrust their default starting point for bringing talent in as contractors, allowing clients to save money and quickly scale to address market demand after a pandemic that showed the value of flexibility.
Our vision is to distribute economic opportunity more equitably around the world. We’ve chosen to focus our initial development on the trillion-dollar IT space, but self-employed workers in countless industries — from management consulting, law, and accounting firms to marketing, advertising, and other creative services — are ready to join the Ownership economy. To create this economy, we need to disrupt “business as usual”.
The current system will never serve us, the workers. And so we must build a new one. Together.